Film Review – Dog Eat Dog (2016)

Dog Eat Dog

Title – Dog Eat Dog (2016)

Director – Paul Schrader (Touch)

Cast – Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Mathew Cook

Plot – Led by the recently released from prison Troy (Cage), a trio of dim-witted criminals including Mad Dog (Dafoe) and the hulking Diesel (Cook) set out to kidnap a baby for the score of a lifetime.

“Once you were in, staying out is all but impossible”

Review by Eddie on 15/05/2017

It’s likely that we’ll never fully understand just what happened to famed writer/director Paul Schrader and his once highly promising career.

The writer of Raging Bull and Taxi Driver at one time seemed like a potential once in a generation type of voice, those films clearly attest to that, but since the glory days of the late 70’s and 80’s, Schrader has since disappeared into being a writer and a director of such forgettable oddities as The Walker and The Canyons, that now Schrader is but a ghost of his former self, especially after his previous film The Dying of the Light ended up being the garbage that it was.

Obviously not one to retire wondering, Schrader however has once more teamed up with his Dying of the Light leading man Nicolas Cage and recruited Willem Dafoe along for the ride with his bizarre yet somehow forgettable adaptation of Edward Bunker’s book, Dog Eat Dog.

Starting out in a fashion that will likely have many brows raised and jaws hanging open, Dog Eat Dog is a real oddball type of a film with sprinklings of outlandish and over the top violence, reprehensible characters and a few select zingers that showcase Schrader still does have power with words when he sets his mind to it.

Set around a recently released trio criminals who answer to Nicolas Cage’s slightly more intellectual Troy, this group which includes Dafoe’s drug addled Mad Dog and Christopher Cook’s heavy hitting lug Diesel find themselves over petty crime and looking to score big which ends up with a scenario where Paul Schrader’s (please let us never see him act on screen again) Greek offers them a job of babynapping to make a big score.

It seems as though Cage loves a good babynapping (reliving his Raising Arizona days) but Dog Eat Dog doesn’t ever really seem comfortable in what it is. Some form of Americanised version of a UK classic like Snatch or a poor man’s Quentin Tarantino crime yarn, I’m not quite sure and while Dog Eat Dog has a few moments of genuine shock (an attack on a police women springs to mind and will likely be remembered along the same lines as Cage’s famous “punching” scene in the Wicker Man remake) and a Willem Dafoe turn that deserved a much better movie, Schrader still seems to be shooting blanks in the story telling department where he used to be shooting heavy hitting bullets.

There may just be a life for Dog Eat Dog in the cult movie dominion and midnight screening madness and while this is a step up from the dire Dying of the Light, Dog Eat Dog is by no means the work we know Schrader is capable of delivering; at least once upon a time long ago.

2 jackets out of 5

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2 responses to “Film Review – Dog Eat Dog (2016)

  1. It was really weird and kind of stupid. But Schrader tries for something here that I personally enjoyed, even when it seemed like he had no idea where he himself was going. Nice review Eddie.

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